International Day for Biodiversity: Agriculturist on gardening, seeds
By Mavic Conde
FOR this year’s International Day for Biodiversity, Bicol Mail interviewed Cheryll Rebeta, Albay’s provincial agriculturist. She talked about communal gardening and seed saving—two approaches to food production that let people be part of the solution, which also happens to be this year’s theme.
According to Rebeta, the province has an ongoing communal gardening program called Albay Family Based Food Production Program (AFBFPP), where each of the 720 barangays shall have one Barangay Communal Vegetable Garden (BCVG) and 100 households or more to establish their own backyard vegetable garden.
“It aims to improve food production among the populace and provide safe and healthy food through organic farming,” Rebeta said in an online interview.
Since 2017, the year the AFBFPP was launched through the provincial ffice, a total of 1799 kilograms of seeds have been distributed, which have been planted on 530 hectares of land.
She said the distributed vegetable seeds have a high germination percentage (85 to 90 percent) based on the report of community facilitators who do the close monitoring of this program. She stressed the importance of sustained monitoring for the success of the program implementation, from seed distribution, harvesting and sometimes selling of excess produce.
These approaches have also helped: incentive and reward system; provision of free vegetable seeds, garden tools and other garden inputs; free trainings on organic agriculture including a Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
scholarship, and establishing of AFBFPP organization in every barangay for easy coordination.
When asked about saving seeds, Rebeta agreed that organic farmers should be encouraged to adopt this practice. For the AFBFPP beneficiaries, she said “it will allow them to save seeds because the seeds distributed were Open Pollinated Variety” (naturally pollinated). This means they can still use the seeds for planting as it will reproduce the same plant as the parent,” adding: beneficiaries can grow crops anytime of the year when they save seeds.
“The excess of seeds produced can be marketed as additional income of the group,” she added.